Impact spoke to Maddie and Amy from the Nottingham Knights Cheerleading Squad about calendars, competitions, and being kicked in the face.
How would you describe the identity of the club?
M: We’re a really friendly club, and there’s no animosity between anyone. We had loads of people wanting to join this year, but after try-outs we have to cap the squad at 50 because it allows us to keep a positive atmosphere within the group.
A: Our socials are compulsory, which might sound a bit harsh, but it’s for people’s own good – it’s good for everyone to get to know each other outside of practice and performances.
No Mean Girls bitchiness here then?
M: No, not at all. It’s something we actively try and get away from. It’s funny because you get girls that come onto the squad and say ‘It’s really not like we thought it would be’.
A: Our socials often involve us dressing up in ridiculous outfits rather than the slutty stereotype. I was Snape for one last year.
“Girls come onto the squad and say ‘It’s really not like we thought it would be.”
What are the characteristics of a good cheerleader?
M: There’s no ideal cheerleader we look for. In general terms it’s a combination of gym and dance, so a background in either would make it easier to pick it up.
A: People that are willing to try really hard are the ones that make the best cheerleaders. The ones that get kicked in the face and just get back up and want to do it again.
What’s the peak of the cheerleading year?
A: Varsity, definitely. The competitions are really fun but the Ice Hockey Varsity game is my favourite.
M: Also, Varsity’s nice because our routines are always at their best and it feels like a culmination of all our hard work. The whole Uni is watching too, whereas at competitions it’s often just family.
Do you struggle getting many boys on the cheerleading team?
M: Yeah, absolutely.
A: I’ve tried really hard this year. I’ve made sure that there are boys on our promotional posters and we’ve also spoken to a couple of the other clubs to see if they can help us out at Varsity time, for example. It’s difficult because there is such a stereotype of it being a girly sport.
M: We’re so keen to get as many as possible, because they are able to make the lifts look so much better. Any guys that might be interested, please get in touch!
“It’s difficult [getting guys on the team] because there is such a stereotype of it being a girly sport.”
What does the club do outside of performances and competitions?
A: We work with the local charity, Forget-Me-Notts, which has recently merged with Operation Orphan, to give chocolates to children in care at Christmas and Easter. We’ve recently shot a calendar, from which all profits will go to the charity.
Could the club not raise money for charity in a way which didn’t perhaps perpetuate some of the classic cheerleading stereotypes?
M: We do the calendar because it’s by far our biggest fundraiser for charity. At the end of the day, if it didn’t make any money then we wouldn’t do it. We also get involved on a personal level, helping pack the boxes and deliver them, which I think the charity really appreciates.
A: We do other things during the year too, like donut and cookie sales, so there is a long-term commitment there. We’ve been raising money for Forget-Me-Notts for four years now. This year we’ve included some fully-clothed pictures too, to try and get away from the stereotype.
“This year we’ve included some fully-clothed pictures [in our calendars], to try and get away from the stereotype”
M: Everyone who took part was completely happy and it was a really funny day.
A: Loads of other societies do them too, including boys ones, and some have way more flesh on show than ours. I don’t think we should be a victim of the stereotype.
Image courtesy of nottingham.ac.uk